Alexandra Joelson remembers having to drop over $200 on new cleats before her high school soccer seasons were over. Her and her teammates’ cleats were falling apart despite being top market brands.
The business administration sophomore first pitched the idea of more durable shoes at the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Elevator Pitch Competition in 2019. Joelson pitched cleat guards, a silicone shell that is placed on the bottom of cleats and won $1,000.
Joelson decided to take her idea of interchangeable soles to the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Startup Marathon, where she met her future Intego Sports co-founders. At the Startup Marathon competition, the team discovered through customer development that durable cleats are a huge problem in the footwear market.
Intego Sports, a Cal Poly student-run company, has patented a novel manufacturing process to produce more durable soccer cleats.
“Seventy-one percent of soccer players call the durability of their shoes the biggest problem they have with their equipment,” Chief Operating Officer and environmental protection and management sophomore Samuel Andrews said of Intego Sports consumer insights.
Intego Sports aims to solve this problem by offering shoes that are “three times more durable and last three times longer,” Andrews said. Still at a pre-launch and pre-manufacturing stage, Intego Sports will use injection molded manufacturing to create a strong bond between cleat sole and upper.
Consumers value the durability and cost-effective price of Intego Sports cleats. Intego Sports may affect the democratization of soccer as players from lower income backgrounds won’t have to spend more money over time, Andrews said. Producing a long lasting, reliable cleat “means that you aren’t worried about having to go out and buy a new soccer cleat midway through the season that can cost you $200 to $300,” Andrews said.
The quality and durability of Intego Sports soccer cleats also contributes to improved player experience, he said.
“To have a reliable soccer cleat first of all means that you’re not afraid of injury," Andrews said. "It means that you can focus on your performance, focus on what you’re doing on the soccer field rather than worrying about whether or not something else will fail you and hurt your performance or how you do."
In addition to player experience, the design of Intego Sports cleats have two main environmental components, Joelson said.
”One, with longer lasting shoes, we’re using less materials over time,” she said. “And two, in the cementing process that normal footwear manufacturers use… they use a glue that’s very toxic… [and] we’re completely eliminating that chemical adhesive.”
The engineering of the cleat was an obstacle for the company, Andrews said. He recalled their “need to pivot multiple times to get the right solution.”
Looking back, Intego Sports has faced a few challenges since its inception, Andrews said. The COVID-19 pandemic was a major setback along with initial funding for the professional manufacturing of the prototype, he said.
Currently, the Intego Sports founders are searching for potential investors to fund the manufacturing process.
“We’re looking to take an investor on board,” Joelson said. “We’re about to go into our first fundraising round to raise some money so we can produce some molds and do the proper testing and validation.”
Intego Sports is a few months away from having the molds fully developed and receiving cleat prototypes, according to Joelson. “We’re planning on incorporating some Cal Poly athletes and people in the local area to do product testing,” she said.
Intego Sports is focusing on its first product, the soccer cleat, right now, Joelson said. “However, looking into the future, our patent covers any two piece shoe. So, skate shoes, running shoes, hiking shoes … we can scale into most types of footwear.”
“We’re not just a product, we’re a company. We’re a footwear company.”
To learn more about Intego Sports check out their website and social media below!
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